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As Her Family Grapples With OCD, Author Tackles Stereotypes Through Writing

photo of Barbara and Zachariah Claypole White
Courtesy of Barbara Claypole White

Barbara Claypole White always wanted to be a writer. But she put her passion aside when her young son was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Years later when she picked up the pen again, he became her muse. In her first book “The Unfinished Garden” (MIRA/2012), Claypole White’s leading character was a man who struggled with OCD. In each of her subsequent books, she continued to write about characters with mental illness in an effort to show their strength. Her latest book follows a mother named Katie who has postpartum OCD. Katie is consumed by the irrational fear that she will hurt her newborn daughter, so she leaves her family to protect her child. When Katie accidentally runs into her kid years later, she notices compulsive behaviors. Katie has the power to help, but should she?

Host Frank Stasio talks to Claypole White about her new book “The Promise Between Us,” (Lake Union Publishing/2018) and her efforts to combat negative stereotypes about mental illness. Stasio also talks to her son, Zachariah Claypole White, about his role in his mother’s writing and his own art. Barbara Claypole White will be teaching a writing workshop at 158 Books in Wake Forest on Sunday, March 25. Zachariah Claypole White will be performing as Eden Falling at Second Wind in Carrboro on Wednesday, March 28.


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Amanda Magnus is the executive producer of Embodied, a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, relationships and health. She has also worked on other WUNC shows including Tested and CREEP.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.